New photo equipment. Advice on lighting.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Cabbit, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. Cabbit macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2006
    Hey folks i bought a cool wee photo tent and some lights to try and improve my attempts at product photography. I have included my first 3 photos and i think they look pretty good but i need some advice on how to make them pro looking.

    One thing i tried later was to take a photo of the white of the tent and use that as white balance, i don't have any of the sample from that just yet but they looked at least on camera quite a bit nicer with regards to the backgrounds though still the background shows though a lot.

    What i would like to do is get these images as close to professional product photos as possible with little post processing.

    So is using the background as white balance a good idea?
    Is there guides on where best to put the lights?
    Will i always need to do post to get those perfect white backgrounds a lot of website images have?

    Oh also i have started ironing the backings since the first picture using the black background..
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    • White balance: try inserting a WB card of some sort and using that for your white balance. If it's in the way, just get the setting and remove the card for the actual shots.

    • Positioning the lights: it will really depend on what you're photographing, especially if the objects are reflective. The standard starting point would be to have a light on either side (as you do), positioned just in front of the object, at about a 30-degree angle to either side of the camera and up higher than the object you're photographing (so: pointing down and back).

    • "Perfect white backgrounds": You'll probably need a background light in addition to the two side lights, as well as a light beneath the tent. If you can get enough light coming through the bottom and background, you won't have to worry much about wrinkles in the cloth. Unless they're really deep, it will all clip to white.

    I've been doing a bunch of product photography for a relative and built a fairly large custom tent for the purpose. It has a white plexiglass floor with tube lights beneath it that closely match the color temperature of the strobes I use outside of the box. I have three large sheets of Lee ND gel that I can stack over the tube lights to control their contribution to the exposure. The trick is to get the background and floor bright enough to clip without either casting unwanted backlighting or under-lighting on the object. It really helps to have lights that are adjustable in intensity. The little table lamps you're using don't look to be adjustable.

    My overall impression of your photos is that they look too dark, and the objects aren't getting enough light in front. Your set-up photo shows the lights pointed back-to-front. You need to point them the other way, and you need light behind and beneath the tent to make the tent itself disappear. It also helps to get some light coming from above, either by placing an arm holding a light over the tent or else by bouncing a light off of the tent's ceiling.

    Hope that helps!
  3. steveash macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2008
    Hi Cabbit.

    Light tents have good and bad qualities. The good - they make it easy to get soft light that is free of reflections. The bad - they tend to give an overly soft, flat light that is hard to control.

    As Phrasikleia said you will only get a perfect white background if you over expose it. You can do this by lighting directly or through the diffusion material.

    If your lights are of a single power then you can adjust the exposure using the inverse square law (ie move them closer or further away from the tent). There is no single solution so you need to do some experimenting. You might want to try putting one light behind the product and the other above for example. I would also recommend working with one light at a time. Most lighting set ups are based around one key light with the others providing fill or details.

    Have fun...
  4. TheDrift-, Nov 4, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2011

    TheDrift- macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010
    +1 as already said, throw more light at the background to get it that 'perfect white'

    A 2:1 ratio for hey key photography is good staring point with two sidelights aimed at the background on say F16 with a main front light on f8.

    Here is my attempt earlier in the year, still lots of refining to do, lighting is a bit harsh and I could have done with a soft box...but you get the idea on the background

    Also very easy to do in post Just up the exposure and mask the subject, as ever more time brings more refinement this was done in less than 2 mins, but i'd recommend trying to get in right in camera from the start of you can

  5. Keleko macrumors 68000

    Mar 26, 2008
    Follow this guy's website. He's also on Google+. He does product photography for a living, and he shows a lot of setups with lighting on how the shot was done. I've seen some examples where he's shown how to do a product lighting on the cheap and achieved results nearly as good as the expensive and extensive lighting.
  6. Cabbit thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2006
    Cheers for all the tips guys, i will hopefully have a weekend of fun trying this out, less something takes me away.
  7. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land

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